Metro-East News

Attorney general to create task force to improve rape prosecutions

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Tuesday is expected to announce the formation of a task force to study how to improve felony sex crime investigations and prosecutions.

The task force’s creation follows a four-day series published last month by the BND called “Violation of Trust,” which reported that 70 percent of rape cases reported to police in Southern Illinois don’t make it to court. The article compared the number of criminal sexual assault and abuse cases reported to police with the number of cases filed by prosecutors in 32 counties from 2005 to 2013.

The task force will consist of Madigan, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, and Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Polly Poskin. Details of the task force will be released at a press conference Tuesday in Chicago.

According to the BND’s investigation, only 18 percent of felony sex cases reported to police in St. Clair County resulted in criminal prosecutions. During the nine year period, St. Clair County police departments presented one in three felony sex crimes involving adult defendants to prosecutors, or 620 cases. Of those, 205 were accepted for charges. Since Kelly took office in 2010, the office has improved its performance, prosecuting about half of the cases presented by police.

In Madison County, the prosecution rate was double that of St. Clair — 38 to 18 percent, respectively.

In Jackson County, home of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, which has an enrollment of 18,000 students, just 13 percent of rape cases reported to police were prosecuted. SIUC campus police investigated 52 felony sex crimes during the nine-year period. Only five of those, or 10 percent, resulted in criminal charges.

The investigation also found that cities with the largest police departments and most detectives had some of the lowest prosecution rates. In Belleville, it was 16 percent; Carbondale, 8 percent, and East St. Louis, 7 percent.

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